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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Trophy Wife


ISBN: 9781804835548

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication Date: 01/02/2023

Format: e-book

My Rating: 4.5 Stars (ARC)



Keogh is the queen of compelling narratives and twisty plots’ Jenny O'Brien


The brilliant new psychological thriller from bestseller Valerie Keogh.


His prized possession....his greatest mistake?


From the moment I saw Anne, I knew she was perfect for me.


Her beauty and her social connections would make my miserable life so much better. It didn’t matter that I didn’t love her. I would give her the lifestyle she craved, and she would give me the life I deserved...


But soon, my marriage vows were a noose around my neck.


I longed to escape my beautiful, horrible wife.


And then I saw her and knew there was only one way out…


Don't miss the brand-new thriller by Valerie Keogh! Perfect for fans of Sue Watson, Shalini Boland, and K.L. Slater.



This book was previously published as Exit Five From Charing Cross







My Review


Valerie Keogh returns following The Widow and The Lodger with her latest Gatsby-vibe, moody, gripping, and thought-provoking literary, psychological thriller, with a plot twist, THE TROPHY WIFE — one man's tragic complex journey and cautionary tale.


The "IFs" in life—missed opportunities, extraordinary lives almost lived, and regrets. A life—of lies, secrets, greed, regret, and loss.


A man desperately trying to understand precisely where it went wrong, to pinpoint the moment: when he left home? When he met Adam? Jane? Ann? Or when he discovered the truth about his parents?


Thanks to him, three people have died.


Meet Mr. Jake Mitchell. He grew up in a small and dreary town with small minds and few expectations, including his parent's views.


He applied for a scholarship to the University of Oxford without consulting his parents and forging their names. He was accepted! His future and his dreams suddenly became attainable. He would study business and economics. He would achieve success.


Of course, his parents were not overjoyed and thought he should stay there and work in the factory. He wanted more. He did not desire a life like his parents, with every spark crushed by dull grinding monotony.


His parents even said the day he was leaving—maybe they needed to visit Cornwall, but he knew they would never visit. He would escape. His freedom awaits him, and he leaves without a backward glance.


The hand of fate? Destiny? Where did he go wrong?


Phase One: Parents

Phase Two: Oxford University

Phase Three: Adam

Phase Four: Jane

Phase Five: Ann

Phase Six: The discovery

Phase Seven: Financial ruin | Failing marriage

Phase Eight: Joyce

Phase Nine: Plot to murder wife

Phase Ten: Final Reality


He was on a train to Oxford to get his education—where he met Adam. He wanted everything he had. Adam came from money and privilege. Jake had come to Oxford to find endless possibilities and would not saddle himself with his past. Truth or lie? He chose lies.


He took the metaphorical knife and sliced away his past, saying his parents had died a few years earlier in a car crash and both killed instantly. He did not realize then that his life would become intertwined with Adams— and he would be forced to live a lie forever.


What 18 yr-old thinks of the consequences of his actions? He even believed his own story for a while.


Immersed in his friendship with Adam and taken under the wing of the wealthy parents, Giles and Clara, with old money and class. He even met Adam's sister, the beautiful Ann, that attended Cambridge. She regarded everyone as prey. Not a lot of substance, but beauty.


After a while, it was too late, to tell the truth—he had too much to lose.


After university, not yet thirty, he was hired as a consultant fund manager for one of London's investment banks, making more money than he had thought possible. He was rich. He thought that was enough until he met Jane.


Adam was mesmerized by Jane, a woman he had overlooked. Now it was too late. Adam would soon marry the girl he loved. He made a mistake. He would be happy for his best friend. He would one day be his best man even though he is envious. Just as well—he would need to tell her his secret and that he could not.


He would buy the mansion, the Porche, the designer clothes. Money did make the world go round. Elgin Crescent—Everyone would be envious and give him the needed status. Ten million dollars? He was a fraud.


But then he needed a wife. So he may as well settle with Ann. She is beautiful, and Adam/Jane would be his brother/sister-in-law, and their parents would welcome him. However, Ann was manipulative and scheming and she loved to spend money. He did not love her.


He could be happy, couldn't he? No matter how rich he became, there was his past. If he had confessed, his life might have ended differently.


He does not tell anyone but decides to visit his parent in Bristol after all these years. But when he arrives, things do not go as he planned. He receives a shock that would alter his life. His parents no longer live at 24 Primrose Terrace. It had been seventeen years. He had no idea what had happened after he left. He only sent annual Christmas cards and never heard back.


When faced with this reality, it is more than he can bear. But he cannot discuss this with anyone since he has lied about his past. A loveless marriage and two children later, he made a terrible mistake.


He was a sitting duck for what was to follow.


The economy. A falling marriage. Children are taken care of by nannies. His job and position would soon be ending. His money would be gone. His family would leave.


A ride on the Tube to Charing Cross. A mysterious woman at a table outside Paul's cafe. Her name is Joyce—an artist.


He stopped. Now his life would forever change.


A plan to escape. A plan to kill his wife. Uxoricide. The act of killing one's wife. Stealing from his client's funds. He changed his mind. Too late. They planned to leave. Now she is gone. Nothing is as it appears.


What happens next will BLOW YOUR MIND! How will Jake's life end?


WOW!!! I have so much to say about this book. I had no clue I would love this book so much, but there are pros and cons. My thoughts:


Pros:

~Firstly, I enjoy the author's writing style. I have recently discovered Valerie Keogh, and this is my fifth book by the author I have read. I appreciate how she leaves readers with something to ponder at the end of each chapter or a summary. I like this and find it very engaging and refreshing. She is also a skilled writer and master storyteller and her books are thought-provoking even though thrillers.


~This was a great story that I enjoyed reading about the life of Jake, as a cautionary tale with lots of plot twists, especially the last part - murder plot, Charing Cross, and after—brilliant!


~The author's writing is very good, and engaging—it lends itself to a more literary feel. By eliminating the current title, cover, and sex scenes, you strip down to the real story.


~The entire time I read, I thought of The Great Gatsby. Jake reminded me so much of Jay Gatsby. His origin, the lies about his past, parents, greed for money, status, secrets, the need for the big house, and the desire for a woman he could not have. Jake, like Jay Gatsby's story, is tragic, and there is much beneath the surface.


I think this book is targeted at the wrong reader. Here is why.


This book could most definitely be labeled as a literary, psychological suspense (my favorite genre); however, there are a few things that keep this from being 5 stars and fitting into this genre. Some of this has nothing to do with the author and her writing and is more with the publisher's marketing team, which is too bad.


Cons


~THE COVER and TITLE:

The Barbie doll image and the title for me lend the book to more rom-com, chick-lit, or Desperate Housewives. (not a genre I am interested in). Covers matter, and being a web designer for authors and on several panels for publishers to select covers —is a big deal. I almost did not read this book due to the cover and title. They do not do the book justice.


The title also lends itself to this other target audience. The Trophy Wife differs from what this book is truly about. It is just one part of Jake's journey. This book is much deeper below the surface. Being an Associate Publisher and then Publisher for many years, I am into covers and the story they tell.


~I could envision a title about Jake's life. The lies (Lives) of Jake Mitchell or something along this line. For the cover, I could see a man's silhouette headshot side view, maybe double exposure that gives you that intriguing, mysterious look and feel.


I realize this book's original title was Exit Five From Charing Cross (which is better than Trophy Wife) but still, it is only one part of Jake's journey. Also, that cover did not work either, as outdated and did not fit.


~I would eliminate all the sex scenes. This also goes back to the Barbie doll (title and cover). These scenes added nothing to the book and took away from the story.


In summary, I hope this book gets into the right hands and a reader who appreciates the story and not just another trophy wife book. Otherwise, this book would have been 5 stars. I urge readers to return to the first chapter after reading the book, which is key.


Looking forward to seeing what is next from this author. I am enjoying reading her backlist!


Thank you to #BoldwoodBooks and #Netgalley for a gifted ARC.


@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: Jan 2, 2023

My Rating: 4.5 Stars





Praise


"A wonderful book, I can’t rate this one highly enough. If only there were ten stars, it’s that good. Valerie Keogh is a master storyteller, and this is a masterful performance." —Anita Waller, bestselling author











About the Author



Valerie Keogh lives in Wiltshire with her husband and a huge black cat, Fatty Arbuckle. She grew up reading Agatha Christie and initially wrote crime novels - she now writes psychological thrillers.


The Little Lies was shortlisted for the Crime Fiction Lovers Award 2021


Valerie has a BA in English and an MA in American Literature.


She has recently signed a contract for four new psychological thrillers with Boldwood Books, the first of which, The Lodger, is published on August 1st.


Order of publication:

Exit Five from Charing Cross (2014)

Deadly Sleep (2016)

Twisted Power (2016)

Bitter Business (2017)

Wicked Secret (2018)

Secrets Between Us (2018)

The Housewife 2019

The Dublin Murder Mysteries (2020)

The Three Women (2020)

The Perfect Life (2020)

The Little Lies (2020)

The Deadly Truth (2021)

The Lies He Told (2021)

The Couple in the Photograph (2021)

A Taste of Deceit (2022)

The Lodger (2022)

Like Valerie Keogh's facebook page: facebook.com/valeriekeoghnovels


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